Asking For Orange Juice On American Airlines May Violate Federal Law

Something went very wrong on American Airlines flight 614 from Sacramento to Dallas this Sunday, December 6th. An American Airlines stewardess having an extremely bad day flipped the frak out on a first class passenger for asking for a glass of OJ and gave him a written warning from the captain for, “threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a crewmember.” Here’s an eyewitness account:

UPDATE: American Airlines Responds To Psychotic OJ Incident
UPDATE: Delta Offers Gold Status To Victims Of Psychotic American Airlines Stewardess

David Koss wrote us, “About 45 minutes into the flight I was awakened by a flight attendant named Helen, screaming at the man sitting in front of my wife. It was so loud, I could hear it over my headphones and the music playing. She was going off about how she didn’t care if he was Platinum or Executive Platinum. I found this to be very odd. When she was done screaming, she came over to where my wife was sitting to ask what she wanted to eat. Then she said, “Sorry about that, he was just bitching.” First of all, such language shouldn’t be used by a flight attendant. Second of all, what business is it of hers to discuss the situation with other passengers?

Since I take the word of the other 5 friends I work with (including my wife) as truth, I will describe the events that led to the outburst. Helen was already having a very bad day. She acted upset to be working this job, which in this economy she should be grateful for, and was irritated at everyone. All my friends could tell that she was pissed. She was pissed that she was there, that people were blocking aisles while she was serving meals, and that they were getting up to use the restroom. She violently slid my friend’s breakfast onto his tray, nearly spilling everything and then headed to the man in front of my wife. He had trouble getting his tray out, and she stood there rolling her eyes at him. When he finally got it out, she dropped the breakfast hard onto the tray. He asked if he could have some orange juice. This is when it hit the fan. “This must be your first time in first class,” she said. He asked what she meant by that. He told her he was actually on the flight that made him Executive Platinum for the 10th year in a row. She said, “You obviously don’t know how this works.” He told her in a calm voice that she was being very condescending. That’s when she blew up on him and woke me up. He started looking the other way and asked her to stop yelling at him. The entire first class section was
watching her go nuts.

She went to the front of the plane and disappeared for a while after making the previously mentioned comment to my wife. The man was shocked. He started looking around and asked the rest of us if we just saw what happened. We started talking to him about it, and didn’t know why she was acting this way. At one point Helen went into the cockpit to talk to the captain. We all took turns talking to each other, and everyone saw the same thing. Our friend Barth was sitting on the opposite side of the isle, diagonally to the man who asked for orange juice. About an hour after the incident they began having a lengthy discussion. We all thought there may be police waiting at the gate when we arrived and wanted to let him know we had his back. The flight attendant came out from hiding, walked straight up to Barth, kneeled down and said, “Do you have something you need to say to me?” Barth said, “The two of us are having a private conversation.” She got up and walked back to the front. We knew something was terribly wrong with this woman. Now she was confronting other passengers now as well. He stated that it would be best not to continue this conversation until we were on the ground. The other two flight attendants were as nice as could be. Nicer than usual actually. We were all too wound up to go back to sleep. My wife and I had about three hours of sleep the night before and had a long day ahead, but sleep was out of the question. We were actually nervous to be in the presence of such an unstable individual.

Helen came up to the OJ man, and asked him to come to the front with him. He started to get up, but I yelled at him, along with my other friends not to go up there. If he had a private conversation with her, there would be no witnesses, and she could tell authorities that he said anything she wanted. He stayed put in his seat. She came back to his seat with a written warning she said was from the captain. It stated that he may be in violation of Federal Law for “Threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a crewmember (section 91.11).” She said, “I didn’t want to have to do this in front of every one, but here you go.” According to the document, he could be put in prison for asking for his orange juice.

The tension in the cabin was mounting. We knew at this point someone would be waiting for us when we arrived. We were ready to give a statement. She called the older man that was in front of OJ man into the front of the plane for a private statement. That man would not have heard a word she said from behind his seat. It was way too noisy. He looked to be in his 70’s as well. She came back and asked if anyone else wanted to be a witness. We all said no. We didn’t want to say a word to her. She told us that she had witnesses as well. At the end of the flight, she asked us if we wanted anything else. There was no way I was going to eat anything that this woman was serving.

Helen had made our flight miserable. Upon arriving, we were greeted by a representative of the airline. She had been called ahead by the captain to meet us on the jet bridge. She had no idea so many people would be there to report what happened. We went to the gate and all gave a statement about what happened. She had someone else that had more relevance to the situation come down and talk to the man. This man stated that the Feds would probably have to investigate due to this warning being issued. The slips aren’t to be given out unless it’s a very big deal. We all wished him well and exchanged information. He had another flight to catch, and we were all glad to be on the ground safe.

Our group has about 130 people that fly 30 weeks a year. At an average of $300 per flight, that’s over 1 million dollars a year spent. And I’ve been on the road with these people for nearly 10 years. So this is what we get for over $10 million in sales. If Helen doesn’t like people, she should find a job like flipping burgers. That way, she won’t have to talk to the customers. This woman’s behavior is completely unacceptable and is a perfect example of what I’ve been seeing in AA flight attendants for years now. They don’t want to be there, make up their own rules that don’t reflect the company, and have huge disdain for the people paying their salary… the customers.

-Dave Koss”

The real terrorists can be found flying first class, drinking orange juice.

Reached for comment, American Airlines said they will look into the matter.

American Airlines Says Asking for Orange Juice may Violate Federal Law [KOSSOME]

Comments

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  1. sleze69 says:

    Dave,

    Speak with your dollars. If your group travels on AA as much as you say, a simple threat to take your business elsewhere should bring a quick resolution.

  2. SuperLisa says:

    I’ve encountered this Helen on a recent DFW-based flight. I was seated in the first class cabin as well as the above-referenced passenger. On my flight, I went to the restroom, and as I reached the door, the seatbelt sign went on. She snapped at me, “You need to sit down or know that you are moving at your own risk.” The other flight attendant said, “Oh, that’s just Helen.” She has quite a reputation.

    • Jesse says:

      I hate to sound political here but this is probably a perfect example of how union seniority can prevent bad employees from being fired.

      • jesusofcool says:

        Agreed.
        I’m a Dem, but Unions are one Dem party line I just can’t support. They’ve long outlived their use.
        However, one bad apple does not make an entirely bad barrel. Just because this woman is an idiot doesn’t mean all AA flight attendants do a poor job. It’s kind of like teaching – I went to a low-income, fully-unionized public school, I had lots of lousy teachers growing up and we all knew that short of having an affair with a student, they would be there to crappily teach students for the next forty years. I also had lots of wonderful teachers growing up, who unfortunately, made the same money and had the same job security as the nitwits who could care less. In this case, I’m sure there are lots of wonderful AA flight attendants, it just means the people who do their job well and are forced to work with this pill Helen make the same money and have the same job security as her. Alright, that’s my anti-union diatribe for the day : )

        • Demonpiggies says:

          Not to be off topic but coming from a family where my mom is a public school teacher… unions are not a bad thing. Sometimes they are abused but most of the time they are used how they are supposed to. Now on that point teachers and college professors get a thing called “tenure.” You should look this up if this is an issue you have (sorry if that sounded rude, it did not mean to be). Tenure allows a teacher/prof to do just about anything before getting fired. When a teacher has tenure, short of screwing a student or setting the school on fire, the teacher cannot be fired. They would have to do something… REALLY REALLY bad. And I mean bad. They can be asked to leave but not forced. Also if you understood the number of teachers that are laid off at the end of a school year because people don’t want to pay their property taxes (and i know this is mostly a city/state issue) then you would support your local teachers’ union. My mother has tenure but can be laid off any year there isn’t money to support the language program. Sorry if this sounds like a rant but it’s hard to read comments like that when they don’t know the entire story. (and again if any of this sounded rude please forgive me)

          • Dondegroovily says:

            Just to clarify, tenure was created at universities (not lower education) to protect professors from being fired for political statements, which was common in the 60s.

          • OletheaEurystheus says:

            “Tenure allows a teacher/prof to do just about anything before getting fired. When a teacher has tenure, short of screwing a student or setting the school on fire, the teacher cannot be fired. They would have to do something… REALLY REALLY bad.”

            Tenure does nothing of the sort.

            You very well CAN be fired with Tenure. What Tenure does is REQUIRE administrators to document clear failure to improve after disciplinary action is taken. You cant just fire a teacher to fire a teacher, you have to show, in a court of law, that the teacher you are going after is in fact a bad teacher, and it is not because of other issues that they are being fired.

            The problem is not tenure it’s self. Its the fact that administrators absolutely REFUSE to do the paperwork and put their jobs on the line in the chance that its shown that the administrator made no attempts to instruct the disciplined teacher how to improve.

            If there is one thing I have learned in education, it is administrators hate EVER putting things in writing at the risk of they themselves being disciplined.

            The cases you site are extreme cases were the tenure hearing is thrown out due to an emergancy, but dont ever think you cant fire a teacher with tenure. You just cant fire them just because you feel like it. If a teacher is REALLY as bad as is often claimed, it would take little more than a few weeks to have enough write-ups to institute a valid tenure hearing.

          • OletheaEurystheus says:

            “Tenure allows a teacher/prof to do just about anything before getting fired. When a teacher has tenure, short of screwing a student or setting the school on fire, the teacher cannot be fired. They would have to do something… REALLY REALLY bad.”

            Tenure does nothing of the sort.

            You very well CAN be fired with Tenure. What Tenure does is REQUIRE administrators to document clear failure to improve after disciplinary action is taken. You cant just fire a teacher to fire a teacher, you have to show, in a court of law, that the teacher you are going after is in fact a bad teacher, and it is not because of other issues that they are being fired.

            The problem is not tenure it’s self. Its the fact that administrators absolutely REFUSE to do the paperwork and put their jobs on the line in the chance that its shown that the administrator made no attempts to instruct the disciplined teacher how to improve.

            If there is one thing I have learned in education, it is administrators hate EVER putting things in writing at the risk of they themselves being disciplined.

            The cases you site are extreme cases were the tenure hearing is thrown out due to an emergancy, but dont ever think you cant fire a teacher with tenure. You just cant fire them just because you feel like it. If a teacher is REALLY as bad as is often claimed, it would take little more than a few weeks to have enough write-ups to institute a valid tenure hearing.

          • jesusofcool says:

            I understand you have a personal connection to this issue, but you did sound rude and you shouldn’t assume that I don’t know what I’m talking about. My family is full of teachers and yes, having gone through close to 25 years of the education system in the US, I’m fully acquainted with tenure. By talking down to everyone here you made your point less valid.
            I know enough about unions (and history) to know I am correct in saying many unions, with some exceptions, no longer serve the purpose for which they were created.

            Btw, you should recognize that the union may be saving your mom from budget cuts, but those budget cuts need to come from somewhere. I don’t support cuts to education for a number of reasons, but just because the union saved your mom’s job, it just means someone else’s city job is going to be cut, services, maintenance budget, something. Why does the union, in your opinion, get to force the city to decide that your mom is more important than any other budget cuts they were considering?
            Though in my experience, budget cuts to education happen even with the union – it’s usually concerned taxpayers/former students who speak out to save educators who do a great job.

          • jesusofcool says:

            Btw, apologies if I sounded rude there. I know opinions tend to be heated when people have a personal stake. I work for a company that does a lot of work with a unionized company and the unionized employees spend a lot of time complaining, so that maybe colors my opinion a little too much.

        • Seokso says:

          Unions are like guns -it’s all about how and why they are used. I worked at one company where a union in a related group caused us endless problems over trivial nitpicking rules. I’ve also worked for a small non-union airline where the ground workers were subjected to seriously unsafe practices and we tried to unionize to protect ourselves. After a month or so of meetings, an organizer from the union spoke up and pointed out that no one had yet brought up money in the discussion. The drive was purely out of concern for safety and a union was the only tool available to make changes. Unfortunately, the vote failed and I ended up quitting.

      • Dondegroovily says:

        When Mugabe was attacking opponents after a sham election, Mbeki refusing to take any action on the crises, it was the South African labor union that refused to unload the ships full of weapons heading to Zimbabwe.

    • CompyPaq says:

      Maybe we should all call American and say we feel uncomfortable flying with an attendant like her around.

    • mollykate says:

      As an ex-flight attendant I used to say the same thing to passengers when the seatbelt sign came on. I imagine tho that Helen was snotty to u which is what she did wrong. I also always made an announcment to be seated. The ones that are out of their seats after that would be the first ones to sue the airline if they got hurt. There ARE flight attendants that care about YOUR well being and don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’ve seen people get up during takeoff to go to the restroom. They DEFINITELY are on their own because I wouldn’t get out of the jumpseat and endanger myself to help them. If a passenger can’t tell that they shouldn’t be out of their seat during take off, then there’s no hope for them.

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    He’s lucky he was flying with fine outstanding witnesses in first class not the scum in economy.

  4. theSuperman says:

    It would be interesting to hear what the crazy flight attendant told the captain to get him to issue that written warning.

    • dolemite says:

      Indeed. I am sure the Feds will not be amused by whatever lies she made up.

    • SacraBos says:

      I want to know the results of the investigation. Since there is a written warning issued, that really ups the game quite a bit. She could be in violation for filing a false report.

    • korybing says:

      Same here. I’d really like to know what she thought had happened to issue a report. I don’t have any reasons to doubt the OP or the other witnesses for what they saw, this report sounds pretty non-biased to me, but I’d really like to hear Helen’s side of the story. If only to know what was going on with her to make her act the way she acted.

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:

      The pilot isn’t going to question her too much, he’s going to give her the warning she wants. Methinks, should this story be true, that the attendant wanted a little cover for when her a$$ was chewed, Went too far filing the report if the situation unfolded as described here, though. She might end up in some trouble, legally speaking, for this.

      Should this story be accurate though, I can pretty much guess she’ll not be in the first class cabin anymore. She’ll be stuck tending to coach on commuter flights if she’s lucky IMHO.

  5. semanticantics says:

    I asked for a low sodium tomato juice once and got punched square in the mouth.

    “Scum” in coach? Hope that is sarcasm. Where one flies has little to do with ones “class”.

    • mk says:

      Yes, I believe that was sarcasm. I was going to say the same thing. If this had happened back in coach, the flier would probably have been arrested and no one would have stood up for him at all. Not because they didn’t want to, but because we expect to be treated as scum back in coach.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      They’re only scum compared to Krusty. They know how they scum.

  6. BillyShears says:

    Yeah, sounds like a legacy carrier all right. Freakin’ Greyhound with wings, the lot of them.

    • MrAP says:

      Ugh, Greyhound. I was on a bus that broke down. We were over 4 hours late getting in. They didn’t even issue a formal apology, let alone give us any kind of compensation. Most of us would have been happy with an apology. Some people asked for compensation for our time, and the manager simply said “It’s not my problem, take it up with corporate yourselves”. That made me want to, so I contacted corporate. I’m still waiting for that call-back….3 years later. I haven’t used Greyhound since.

  7. nullrout says:

    I’ve encountered ones like “Helen” before. Helen needs to quit her job and find out how much fun being employed is. It seems that its the flight attendents that service first/business class that have the biggest attitudes.

    • sleze69 says:

      I am pretty sure that flight attendants are part of a union, and therefore, it is not possible to fire someone like Helen.

      • jkhuggins says:

        Technically, it’s not impossible to fire a union worker. Extremely difficult? Sure. Due process? Lots of it. But “impossible” and “extremely difficult” are different standards to meet.

        • sleze69 says:

          Ok. Not realistically possible.

          • Wombatish says:

            Insubordination is grounds for immediate dismissal in any union.

            This event, especially the lying to the pilot to get him to issue the warning, could be considered insubordination.

            My guess is she’s already been terminated.

          • Shadowfax says:

            Pilots belong to a union too, and that didn’t stop Northwest/Delta from saying that they’re going to fire the two idiots that overshot the Minneapolis airport. Unions mean it’s harder to be fired under the “at-will” employment standards of most states. And that’s a good thing, because I really don’t feel like getting fired because the boss doesn’t like that I’m a liberal. Yes, unions can get too much power (see the MN teacher’s union for an example) but then so can Presidents (see W) and that doesn’t mean we should scrap the idea of having a President. Fix the problem, but don’t destroy the entire system because of a few bad circumstances.

      • cluberti says:

        If she did what this story says she did, she’ll be fired. And if not, I’ll make it a point to continue to never fly AA again after run-ins with employees of said company of my own.

    • emis says:

      nullrout:

      It sounds like Helen is employed, so I’m guessing you meant quit her job and find out what being unemployed is like?

      Regardless, being a flight attendant on a bad day is probably one of the worst jobs in the world short of those where life and death is on the line.

      In particular we’re reading this guy’s side of the story, so it’s hard to know if what we’re getting is the truth or not–he says something about taking the word of his wife and 5 friends, was this guy being yelled at a stranger to them, or was it one of their group?

      He also is pretty quick to dismiss the “older man”, maybe he had something to say that Dave Koss and his friends didn’t like?

      When it comes down to it the job of being flight attendant has morphed into sky-waitress/waiter … flying used to be a serious event and you respected the professionals that flew the plane and managed the passengers, the respect is going out the window… admittedly we are hearing plenty of horror stories about inattentive or unfit pilots, problems with the planes themselves, deceptive fare/fee policies and stories about attendants like Helen… but it’s the same problem all around–people want to pay LESS for a ticket… it costs the airlines MORE to run the same routes and their stockholders all want better returns… so the things getting squeezed are the resources–the teams flying and maintaining and the planes and the planes themselves.

      When your job involves working with a team, and your team is reduced in size, expected to work longer hours and under more adverse conditions then you’re going to get upset too because you’re under more and more stress–so of course it sounds like this situation probably should have been handled differently, and if Helen did yell then she is the wrong, However if she got a pilot involved then I’m guessing there is more to this story then we’re reading…

      • calquist says:

        Yeah. We all have bad days. I haven’t acted like that to my clients, but I’m also not trapped thousands of feet in the air with no escape from them.

      • MattSaintCool says:

        I believe he meant that Helen should quit, making her realize that she should get the stick out of her bum because employment is a good thing.

        “…and you respected the professionals that … managed the passengers…”

        The key word there is professional — Helen appears to be anything but. Granted, we haven’t (and probably won’t) hear her side of the story, but if there’s any truth to this at all, asking for orange juice isn’t a terrorist act.

      • nullrout says:

        So being stressed out is a blanket reason to flip out on customers? Hope the cops I see on the way home aren’t stressed out.

        As was said before, the pilot wasn’t on the floor when it happened…how would he know what happened other than this Helen telling him? Did he talk to any of the passengers…didn’t sound like it.

        I stand by my statement…if she hates her job so much she should quit.

  8. _hi_ says:

    We were safer before section 91.11.

  9. satoru says:

    This is just another reminder never ever ever fly on a domestic airline if possible. Even Air France was actually a decent experience, though with it’s usual French laissez-faire attitude from the attendants (apparently the Flight Attendant button is more of a lighting fixture than a tool to notify them).

    This sure doesn’t make me want to stay in America for a vacation. Though the crumbling US dollar vs every other currency in the world does make going abroad a bit more difficult

    • tbax929 says:

      So one bad employee makes all domestic carriers bad? What’s that, again?

      • satoru says:

        Service on domestic carriers has deteriorated significantly over the past decade. The only notable experience I’ve had was on Midwest airlines which was actually pleasant. But other airlines pretty much have lowered the bar on service. What they call ‘food’ is laughable, and even drinks are rationed. I’ve had a flight run out of literally every type of drinkable liquid on a mere 3 hours into a 6 hour cross country flight.

        • friday3 says:

          Yet everybody wants cheaper fares. You want to cut pilots pay, flight attendants pay, pay lower fares, and still expect service. When the American people decided they preferred cheap over quality, they are getting what they paid for. If you account for inflation what do you think the cost of a flight in 1976 versus today would be?
          Helen obviously is not a good employee, but to paint the entire industry with your broad stroke is akin to racism. If you were robbed by a black guy once, it means ALL black guys are bad.

        • SBR249 says:

          Because airlines like ryanair with their “pay per use bathrooms” mentality are so much better?

      • Chmeeee says:

        Not only does one bad employee make all domestic airlines bad, it apparently in fact makes the entire country suck. I’m not sure the flight attendent understood the wide ranging implications of her rude behavior.

      • flugennock says:

        Does the expression “tip of the iceberg” mean anything to you?

        Seriously, think about… especially since 9 Fricking 11… the airlines treat us like sh!t, and if we complain, they can have us jailed. Now, there’s a business model any CEO can love.

  10. ShruggingGalt says:

    Another reason for me not to fly AA anymore, as if my recent *attempt* to fly on their airline wasn’t enough.

  11. baristabrawl says:

    I was immediately turned off by this article because of the poster’s use of the word, “Frak.” Really? I was almost positive I’ve read, “fuck,” on here before.

    But seriously? Helen needs to be grounded.

  12. LastError says:

    If a passenger acted out as this airline employee allegedly did, the passenger would be hauled off in handcuffs.

    There’s no reason this employee should get any better treatment. AMR needs to ground her and fire her before they get sued.

  13. brokedickrooster says:

    “Second of all, what business is it of hers to discuss the situation with other passengers?”

    It’s not her business, but it’s your duty to put it on the internet!

    • jaya9581 says:

      As a witness, the OP can do whatever he wants. As an employee of the airline, the stewardess should have kept her big mouth shut.

      • EatSleepJeep says:

        Dude, “stewardess” is not the preferred nomenclature.

        It’s now “Sky Waitress” or “Air Head.” Sheesh.

  14. Overheal says:

    That woman is a ticking time bomb clearly, and should be handled by the FAA as such.

  15. KittensRCute! says:

    not shocked. i hope that she is fired, even though she wont be because these people never are…

    • Damocles57 says:

      She won’t be fired. She’ll be promoted to a senior training position for incoming flight attendants.

  16. dollywould says:

    This is crazy!

    I prefer my flight attendants to crack corny jokes and make up flight-related songs, which is why I fly Southwest.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      That happened to me too!

    • SacraBos says:

      (While flying across AZ, NM, NV) … in the unlikely event of a water landing in someone’s swimming pool, your seat can be used as a floatation device …

    • Donathius says:

      My top greatest Southwest experiences:

      1) “In the event of a water landing as we fly over the Nevada desert your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device which (in the event that you use it) you may keep as a gift of Southwest Airlines.”

      2) (To the tune of that stupid Barney song) “We love you, you love us, we’re much faster than a bus, we hope you enjoyed out hospitality, marry one of us and you’ll fly free.”

      3) I was chatting with 3 of the FAs at the back of the plane during a layover in Las Vegas (it was one of those where I wasn’t changing planes). I misspoke and they thought I was flying on with them through Salt Lake City and on to…Chicago I think. We got talking about airport food and they actually offered to buy me dinner in Salt Lake and bring it back on the plane for me since they thought I was going to be stuck on the plane for another 5-6 hours. I declined, of course, since I was getting off in Salt Lake, but I was very impressed by the kind gesture from the rank and file employees.

      • dollywould says:

        On my most recent SW (evening) flight, the attendant got on the loud speaker and said, “You are getting sleepy, very sleepy. You don’t want anything to drink… You don’t even LIKE peanuts.”

        • jenjenjen says:

          I had this variant:
          “You are getting sleepy. You will not ask for drinks. You will not ask for peanuts. You will not fly Delta”

      • MrAP says:

        “And if you are traveling with more than one child today, God help you.”

        “…the masks will fall from the overhead compartment. If you are traveling with children, you should put on your own mask first before placing a mask over the child’s face. If you are traveling with more than one child, you should pick the child most likely to become a doctor or lawyer to put the mask on first.”

        “We hope you’ve enjoyed your flight with us today. And if you did, please remember that you have just flown SouthWest and we are Judy and Melissa. However, if you did not enjoy your experience today, we are Betty and JoAnn, and you have just flown NorthWest. That’s North-West.”

      • jenjenjen says:

        As we approach the gate:
        (sounds of seatbelts unbuckling prematurely)
        “We heeeeeeeear youuuuu.”

        As we get to the gate:
        “You may now commence clawing and scratching your way off the plane.”

      • trujunglist says:

        “If everyone could please continue boarding and find a seat as quickly as possible, we can leave the gate that much sooner. Don’t be afraid to sit in the back, the service is way better! Sorry Kathleen, I know we’ve only been working together for what, 2 weeks? But you gotta admit we’re so much better back here. So c’mon back everybody!”

    • korybing says:

      I am forever sad because I’ve never been on a flight where I’ve been able to fly Southwest. I’ve wanted to experience their legendary customer satisfaction for myself.

    • magstheaxe says:

      I maintain that I once flew with the greatest Delta flight team EVER:

      “Welcome aboard Delta Business Express XXX to YYY. Delta airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”

      “To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.”

      “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”

      “As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”

      “Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

  17. 4phun says:

    I know some real nice people with AA. But after reading this I will try to avoid using AA for future trips. I don’t need that type of hassle.

    • emis says:

      I’d just to point out here–you’re saying you “know some real like people with AA” … but that after reading this you are going to try and avoid them… why?

      You’ve read a story written by a person who you do not know where he tells a tale of an allegedly bad experience with one AA flight attendant, and so now you’re going to avoid flying AA? Based on that one story?

      What if I told you that I was denied a Coke that I asked for on a Southwest flight, and then they lost my gate-checked luggage (which seems impossible to me, but it happened) — Will you now avoid Southwest as well?

      If this were reported by a news agency where facts were (hopefully) checked and both sides of the story are reported, as well as the reports of the professionals involved, I might be tempted to avoid AA… but to make the decision to avoid AA based on a single personal account of a person who wasn’t even involved with what happened, and who is a stranger to you? Seems rash.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Maybe 4phun wants to avoid Helen.

        • GenericBearName says:

          Sure…if she’s real or any of the story is real, but to just take the word of a man you don’t know who has written something online seems rash at the very least, especially if you personally know good people who work for the airline in question. Until you have more evidence or those good people have jobs elsewhere, it’s probably not a great idea to jump on the bandwagon and try to put their source of income out of business.

        • fs2k2isfun says:

          The likelihood of seeing Helen on your flight is pretty small. AA has thousands of flights a day. There are thousands of flight attendants and I would take the odds that you would never cross her path, even if you flight once a week.

      • wardawg says:

        It’s on the internet, it’s obviously more reliable than his friends.

      • frodolives35 says:

        I think it speaks to the fear people have of the power tripping FA who can have you jailed ,cavity searched and banned from flying. In the post 9/11 world it is a justifiable fear.

  18. friendlynerd says:

    Does everyone have their sarcasm filter turned off? I think this was humor. Jeez.

  19. Hogan1 says:

    Disturbing if true, but I suspect more was said by the passenger then a simple request for OJ. As the author admitted, he had his headphones on and missed the start of the conversation. It all boils down to “He Said, She Said”.

    • myrna_minkoff says:

      Shy of a direct threat of assault, I can’t imagine what he could’ve said that would’ve justified this. And none of the other passengers appear to have heard anything of that nature.

      Was he rude in his tone? Maybe. But rudeness isn’t illegal.

      • SBR249 says:

        maybe he asked for his OJ to be freshly squeezed from Florida citrus that was picked from the tree that very morning? That could seriously piss a flight attendant off.

        But yeah, can’t imagine how anyone would have such a short fuse short of some seriously inappropriate remarks…

  20. Kerov says:

    Air travel has become a civil-rights-free zone. You can argue that this “interfering with a member of the flight crew” rule is necessary, but it seems prone to the kind of abuse detailed here.

    The existing laws against assault, criminal endangerement, etc, should be sufficient — and would be perhaps less susceptible to abuse because people have a better intuitive understanding of what those laws mean. “Interfering with the flight crew” pretty much means what the flight crew wants it to mean.

    Ditto with the similar statute that criminalizes “interfering with the screening process” when you go through the TSA checkpoint: you are merely one irate TSA goon away from a Federal charge every time you go through an airport checkpoint.

    • Orv says:

      Yup. After a bad experience with the TSA last time I flew, I’m now planning on doing a lot more driving or taking Amtrak.

    • ktetch says:

      Indeed, the so-called “war on terrorism” is nothing more than domestic terrorism itself.

    • docrice says:

      That’s what “catch-all” laws are all about – look at “reckless driving” laws – it’s pretty much an open-ended law allowing an officer to ticket you if they don’t like how you’re driving. Sure they have legitimate uses, but are just as often used because the officer wants to write you a ticket and can’t categorize your “wrongdoing” as breaking any specific law. Laws like this that are loosely defined are there to create fear that said authority will nail you if they don’t like how you behave.

  21. lightaugust says:

    Wait a second… hate to do this, but this story seems to have a few holes in it. First off, using a crappy economy to tell people that they should be grateful to serve you just annoys me from the outset, so I’m starting from there. At the very least, this is mostly secondhand information… the guy was asleep for the first part of the story. I mean, I don’t doubt that Helen may not be Flight Attendant of the Year material, but the narrative starts with her snapping about orange juice, and goes from there… I don’t doubt it was an overreaction, but I do doubt that it came out of nowhere. Yes, you had a nasty incident with a flight attendant, but it needs a little more than that before you go telling the world that she’s mentally unstable, and that she shouldn’t have the job that she should be so grateful for.

    • tbax929 says:

      He was flying with a group of people with whom he’s traveled many times. I have no problem accepting his second-hand account of what happened based on the accounts of his friends.

      • emis says:

        …and I have no problem accepting this second hand, third-hand account, now that an anonymous stranger has also stated that s/he believes it.

        Seriously… this is like the worst type of story telling going on here… how people have you met in your lives that tell a good embellished story? Now imagine that you’re never going to actually meet that person, and probably will never interact with them again… you’ve got a recipe for ridiculousness.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        That it came from people that he trusts is a good reason for him to feel it’s OK to relate it but it is still a second hand accounting of what happened.

        I’d like to hear from the person this actually happened to.

      • mentor972 says:

        Thanks! I appreciate that. I got a lot of crap for that, but seriously, you’d think people would get that whole thing. I’m sure anyone else would believe 5 of their friends.

    • tonberryqueen says:

      I’ve seen enough people become irrationally angry in my life that I wouldn’t doubt that someone could go crazy over a simple request for OJ.

      When I worked at H&M, a customer tried to leap across the counter and STRANGLE a co-worker because she refused to accept the return of a piece of clothing that had clearly been washed and worn.

      When I worked at a record/pop culture store, I once had to endure the crazy screaming anger of a woman who got pissed off at me that I couldn’t split the purchase of a single $1300 1:1 scale Predator bust across two receipts to help her fleece Canadian customs. Bitch was crazy. (And I had been incredibly sweet and helpful to her the entire time that she had been in the store. Believe me. Including during the part when I patiently explained to her SIX TIMES that it was physically impossible for my register to do what she asked, legal and ethical issues aside.)

      • your new nemesis says:

        I got a good one for you…
        I worked at a pizza hut for a while. During one particular busy dinner rush, we received a call from a customer demanding that we deliver her pizza in 25 minutes. Our del. time was 45, and we never promise earlier than 30 anyways. Soon after she gave up, she called and told my boss that if if her house gets vandalized, she will know it was us and call the cops (we had her phone number and address). About 1/2 hour later, the cops show up to express her concerns about being vandalised, and to file a complaint about something she had invented in that crazy little world of hers. Funny stuff, crazy people. Oh, and she ordered from us about 3 days later.

    • djanes1 says:

      As far as so-called ‘first hand accounts’ go, this one seems about 75% conjecture. And if Dave Koss’s first class buddies are half as douchey as Dave Koss sounds in this article, I can’t really feel bad for how they were treated. He cites “the economy” as a reason to expect people to be happier to serve him and feel grateful towards him personally, as if “the economy” were better he wouldn’t have such a ridiculously entitled mindset.

      Almost every airline consumer buys tickets by choosing the lowest price. Is it that surprising that flying has now been reduced to a completely commoditized experience?

      • mentor972 says:

        Why do I sound douchey for standing up for this guy and writing an article? I don’t expect people to wait on me hand and foot, but is not being a biatch too much to ask for?

        • djanes1 says:

          The complaint letter is the place to come off as a calm and reasonable person through a clear and unbiased account of the incident. However, if the commentary is interspersed with barely restrained class resentment many readers will interpret the incident differently than it was intended. That is, when a request for orange juice was denied condescendingly, the “OJ buddy” decided to escalate the incident by measuring the length of his (frequent flier account). It doesn’t make what Helen did right, but your crew of first-class high rollers may want to reconsider whether escalating conflicts with lower-class authority figures is going to make life easier or harder for them.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      Yeah. Let’s read the purported script of the instigating exchange:

      OJ MAN: “May I have some orange juice?”
      HELEN: “This must be your first time in First Class.”
      OJ MAN: “What do you mean? This flight actually makes me 10th-year executive platinum.”
      HELEN: “You obviously don’t know how this works.”
      OJ MAN: “You’re being very condescending.”
      [Thoroughly slighted by OJ man’s relentless deference, Helen explodes in a torrential litany of criticism directed at OJ Man.]

      If this was a movie script, I’d nominate it for a Razzie. I’m usually suspicious when a story is written with exact quotes for the antagonist, and cheerily vague descriptions of the protagonist’s unwaveringly civil responses.

      • Megalomania says:

        I would read the script as more of:

        MAN: Can I get some orange juice?
        HELEN: This must be your first time in first class
        MAN: Actually, no, this flight makes puts me at executive platinum for the tenth year in a row
        HELEN: You obviously don’t know how this works
        MAN: You’re being very condescending
        HELEN: (rant)

        I wouldn’t assume the guy didn’t start acting hostile after the “this must be your first time” jab, and I would assume that he didn’t feel like taking shit from a stewardess after laying out the cash for first class. Still, even if the guy didn’t say “please” you don’t pointlessly escalate the situation. A dick measuring contest is just as pointless at 30,000 feet, especially when your trump card is so pointlessly over the top that it’ll definitely come back to bite you on the ass.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      Don’t confuse what the OP says to us with what he said to the flight attendant.

    • mentor972 says:

      Lol, I know it sounds cheesy, but seriously… I’m grateful everyday for my job. Cause all my friends are losing theirs. It just makes sense. That’s why I wrote it like that.

  22. FatLynn says:

    While Helen’s actions go above and beyond “having a bad day”, I don’t think the OP needs to make statements like “she should find a new job flipping burgers”.

    • emis says:

      Yeah, his “attitude” in the letter goes a long way to reveal his opinions…

      In fact, it’s the type of attitude that would piss me off if I were in Helen’s position–you’re trying to do your job of serving breakfast to 20 people and you’ve got someone demanding OJ right in the middle of it, then telling you all about how many years they’ve been a Privileged Elite Double Plus member or some such thing, along w/ the attitude of how much money they spend with the company, etc, etc…

      Sounds like Mr. Koss is the type of guy who when pulled over by the police might be yelling out the window “MY TAXES PAY YOUR SALARY!”

      • MrAP says:

        No it doesn’t. It sounds like he paid a lot of friggin’ money for first class SERVICE, and amazingly expected to get that service. You can call me elitist, but I say it all the time, if your job is in the service industry, then you need to give great service. If you can’t do your job, then get another damn job.

        His comment about being grateful is that some people don’t even HAVE a job right now, and here she is WITH a job, and she can’t even seem to appreciate it, and do that job correctly.

        Nobody is saying that people in the service industry are slaves, but their JOB is to be helpful and friendly.

        • mentor972 says:

          I appreciate those words. As I said in the article… I took a lot of crappy middle seats in the back to earn those upgrade points. Flying sucks, and it’s hard to make First Class on American without paying for it. (With money or hard-time in middle seats)

        • bwcbwc says:

          Doing a job professionally and courteously doesn’t require gratitude. It just requires training and/or common sense. Helen seems to need a refresher course, so ground her ass back to the ticket counter (or even better the lost baggage service desk) until she gets her head on straight.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      THIS

      The OP doesn’t even know whether or not it was her job that had her upset that day. That bit and the hamburger line makes the writer sound snotty and elitist. The OP should not be giving AA a reason to believe that the Flight Attendant had a reason for losing it.

    • Megalomania says:

      as much as I detest the whole “first class” mentality, the woman got the federal government involved in something that started out as a guy asking for orange juice. Yes, she should get a new job, and apparently she doesn’t have the people skills to do much else.

  23. ElizabethD says:

    That must’ve been one helluva case of PMS.

  24. sammy_b says:

    aren’t cockpits secured so that nobody (not even the flight crew) can enter? I thought that was a requirement since 9/11. how would she be able to have the pilot sign anything if she can’t even reach him?

    • theSuperman says:

      She could have knocked on the door and he could have opened it?

      • sammy_b says:

        i really thought that they weren’t open-able at all. Maybe they only open one way (from the inside, like you said)?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          No, they’re not only openable from the inside. Common sense dictates this is ridiculous. Remember the pilot who had a heart attack or fell ill and the co-pilot had to take over? What if the co-pilot stepped out to use the bathroom or take care of something in the cabins and the pilot fell ill? Then the co-pilot wouldn’t have been able to get back in if the doors were only openable from the inside.

          • Rena says:

            I should think the pilot and copilot have keys. If it weren’t openable at all, how would they get in in the first place?

      • etz says:

        Can you imagine the embarassment when the last crewmember accidentally closes the door behind them upon arrival at their destination? “Oh crud, I locked us out of the plane….now I have to get a sissor lift and try to open the window with a slim-jim”.

        There’s gotta be a way to open the door.

    • Kerov says:

      No, showily inconvenient security measures are for passengers, not for aircrew.

      Airliner cockpit doors were armored as a result of 9/11, but they are frequently opened in flight (e.g. when the pilot needs to use the lavatory, for crew meals, etc). Depending on the airline, a petite flight attendant may stand guard in the aisle when the door is opened; other airlines block the aisle with a beverage cart when the door is opened.

      Airlines that actually take security seriously (e.g. El Al, and none of the American carriers) have a double-set of armored doors between the cockpit and the rest of the aircraft, so that there is always a locked and armored door protecting the cockpit.

    • morlo says:

      The pilot’s access to stewardesses is an important component of national security. As long as the stewardess rubs against the cockpit door welcomingly, the flight-crew can open the door freely.

  25. Damocles57 says:

    I think many, many people who will continue to make reservations with AA should request the “No Helen” section of the plane or a “Helen-Free” flight.

    Then, on checking in, ask to make sure Helen is not working that flight. Make a comment about your safety – and the safety of others – while on a 400 mph projectile 6 miles over land.

    Then, once on the plane, thank every flight attendant for not being Helen.

  26. GenericBearName says:

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but this flight attendant is yelling loud enough to wake this guy up even with his headphones on and music playing, but “the older man that was in front of OJ man….would not have heard a word she said from behind his seat. It was way too noisy.” Huh? So she’s yelling loud enough to wake him up over his music, but not loud enough for the man sitting directly in front of OJ man to hear? And, “He looked to be in his 70’s as well”….so I guess that means he can’t possibly have heard or understood anything that went on right behind his seat. Seems odd to me…

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i have just enough hearing impairment that if the seat back [or car vehicle headrest] is between me and someone speaking, or if they are in front or to the side of me and facing away, i can’t hear a word. i don’t even know they are talking.
      if things are really noisy around me i have trouble picking one sound or one voice out of the cacophony.
      maybe it’s something like that for the man sitting on front of mr orange juice? for the duration of the flight the OP could have witnessed things that indicated that the older man had a hearing impairment

      • GenericBearName says:

        True…that could be the case, but the OP doesn’t indicate that at all or mention the man at any point beforehand. Also, there’s no reason to assume that just because someone looks older they are so hard of hearing that they can’t hear or understand someone “screaming” only a couple of feet behind them. Or, for that matter, is it right to assume that if someone is younger, they have good hearing. It sounds more like he’s discrediting the one person who apparently gave the flight attendant a statement (something he felt they should not do.) Since the OP says that the “entire first class section was watching her go nuts”, this older gentleman clearly witnessed at least part of the flights events.

        (As an unrelated side note: You can fly first class on AA for “an average of $300 per flight”?! Damn! That’s what my company usually pays for coach seats. If there’s a discount for taking a seat in first on a flight with a hate-filled flight attendant, sign me up!)

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          you’re right, it’s not good to assume that age relates to hearing in any way. my hearing impairment started with an ear infection at age 16.
          the OP should have stated why he thought the older man wouldn’t have heard anything. for all we know the passenger in front of mr orange juice heard everything and pretended he was having trouble hearing just so people wouldn’t annoy him during the flight. like if he was sitting next to someone chatty he might have faked a hearing impairment just to keep from having to listen to them
          it’ll be interesting to see any follow up that might happen

        • ecwis says:

          When you are an Executive Platinum elite customer, you certainly can fly first class for $300. It’s somewhat complicated but by flying a lot, you earn upgrades that can be used to upgrade a flight.

    • mentor972 says:

      OP here… Yeah, it was a combination of him being older, behind her, plane noise, and a seat in-between them. You could tell he had a hard time even hearing his wife. I, however, had no problem hearing. :-)

  27. mexifelio says:

    totally needed the / /’s :P

  28. markrubi says:

    where in the FRAK was the Air Marshall? Do they not fly on flights anymore? If there was one on the flight I think he should have been questioned about the incident, or summoned to take care of Helen.

    • theSuperman says:

      By “take care,” do you mean tranquilize?

    • Kerov says:

      Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) don’t fly on every flight. They are only assigned to “selected” flights. The government doesn’t disclose what percentage of flights FAMs are on, but it is understood to be south of 10%. There’s probably FAMs on the NYC-to-Cairo flight; Pueblo-to-Denver, not so much.

      And the undercover FAMs would be unlikely to reveal themselves over such a trivial incident. They are there to prevent the airplane from being taken over, not to serve as hall monitors (although in recent months, they seem to have shown a willingness to reveal themselves in less serious passenger misconduct incidents, so doctrine may be evolving).

  29. vladthepaler says:

    He’s been seeing this behaviour in AA flight attendants for *years* and he still flies with them? Egads! Someone, please tell the OP there are other airlines!

    • mentor972 says:

      OP here… Yeah, when someone pays and books them for you, you don’t have much of a choice. Gotta make a livin’.

    • xnavarroTeran says:

      From the story as told here, this man has 10 years flying at least 100,000 miles with American. As such he is promised some well earned privileges that he will loose if he goes to another airline. It is to his best interest to complaint, make noise, see if he can catch the attention of AA’s senior management so that they implement in-flight policies that helps address the issue of disruptive passengers while also preventing this type passenger abuse to take place.

  30. Android8675 says:

    “American Airlines could not be reached for comment.”

    Why not? Man I hope you guys plan to post updates about this.

    • Chuck Norris' wig says:

      I would like to see how this turns out. Nuts threatening jail with made up bullshit pisses me off.

      Oh and nice “Adventure” avatar.

  31. Scoobatz says:

    Something that quickly caught my attention in this article… The OP mentioned how the stewardess complained to him about another passenger. God, I despise employees when they do this to me! Numerous times I’ve been either standing in a checkout line, waiting for a customer service rep to end a phone call, etc. — when they look at me and complain about the customer they just dealt with. Like I’m supposed to say, “Yeah, that guy was a real asshole.”

    On several occassions, I asked the employee if I can expect them to talk this way about me after I leave. They either look at me with a blank stare or get somewhat tongue-tied.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I would say, “as long as you don’t act like him”.

    • Cantras says:

      I do it for explanation, but not be negative. “Sorry about the holdup. The line’s not moving because the person in front ordered a bajillion cheeseburgers.” OR I’ve had customers ask me, when the line didn’t move and they could hear the person I’d been dealing with swearing. “Nah, it was just complicated. She was swearing, yeah, but it wasn’t at me.”

  32. comeongob says:

    *THIS* is the type of actual consumer problem I want to read about on this blog (i.e. a legitimate problem).

    Anyway, I hope Dave is persistent and follows up with his complaint of AA. Helen should be fired – being a flight attendant requires skills that she obviously doesn’t have.

  33. DCvision says:

    He’ll have to write a clever ditty, and post a whimsical video on youtube to get any attention or action….

    • AlphaLackey says:

      “Oh how I wish Helen,
      got fired for yellin’,
      ‘In your seat, get the hell in!’
      I’m sick of her tellin’..”

      Yeah I got nothing.

  34. friday3 says:

    There are a few things in the story that if I accept 100 per cent of what the OP says as true make him into a douchebag.
    “she should find a job like flipping burgers” yep, because people who flip burgers are beneath you, They have no worth or value in your eyes.
    “He looked to be in his 70’s as well.” because in your world, once you look a certain way you couldn’t possibly hear.
    “She acted upset to be working this job, which in this economy she should be grateful for,” Yes because businesses all think we shoul be grateful to have a job, but guess what, they should be grateful they are allowed to be in business and anybody buys their products. A job is an exchange of services. If they do not like her performance AA needs to do something about it. Maybe AA should be grateful she showed up for the flight, or if she had not they would have had to cancel it.
    “on the flight that made him Executive Platinum for the 10th year in a row.” Sounds like somebody blowing his own horn to make himself important. Thia was obvious ploy to make it seem like he was more important than others on the flight.

    • TheWillow says:

      This story would be far more compelling if I wasn’t giggling like only someone raised on 80’s Kids TV would at the idea of a guy named Barth.

    • littleAK says:

      “on the flight that made him Executive Platinum for the 10th year in a row.”

      The OP didn’t say that. The man that asked for orange juice did. I didn’t take it that the man aksing for orange juice was trying to say he was important. First, he was already being yelled at by the time he said that. It wasn’t like he demanded orange juice because he was Executive Platinum. He said it in response to her quipping it must be his first time in First Class. Second, airlines typically go out of their way to please frequent flyers in certain exclusive clubs. To let her know his status might have stopped her poor treatment, since the reason they treat these people well is that they bring in tons of money through repeat business. (It didn’t work in this case, but it was worth a try.)

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      To be fair “Executive Platinum for the 10th year in a row” was the only line actually said by the guy that got in trouble and that was in response to the equally condescending line, “This must be your first time in first class.”

      Everything else was the opinion of the OP who’s only relating the events.

      • mentor972 says:

        Thank you. Finally some good words. It kinda sucks that a bunch of people are calling me a douche for writing down events that transpired. Stuff happens, and I’m not gonna sugar-coat it for the world.

    • mentor972 says:

      OP here. Here are my reasons that I’m not a douchebag…

      1) Flipping burgers requires no customer interaction. That was my point. This is her option if she doesn’t like dealing with people. I served popcorn. I’ve done my time. This isn’t about “status.”
      2) He looked old enough that he wouldn’t hear. I was beating around the bush. He was leaning all the way in to hear his wife. It was obvious he had hearing problems.
      3) I’m VERY thankful for my job, that’s why I think she should be too. I’ve seen too many good people losing jobs. That’s why someone like her should be grateful.
      4) “10th year in a row” That is just what he told me after the fact and to prove to customer service that he was a loyal customer.

      • friday3 says:

        Or tell her to be the CEO of a company, because that requires no customer interaction either. You picked a low wage job because you think you are superior to a burger flipper.
        After the fact you tell why you thought the man could not hear, but never mention anything other than his age in the original post. Why did you feel his age was appropriate to the story. In fact, you have no idea how old he was, but insisted on saying something.
        Being a member of Executive platinum does not mean it was not his first time in first class, so has no bearing on the story either. Executive platinum means you fly ,not that you fly first class.
        YOU may be thankful for YOUR job, but who are you to tell somebody what to be thankful for. Executives for the airlines take huge salaries and retention bonuses, while the pilots, baggage crew and flight attendants take pay cuts and lose their pensions. Here is a better idea, be thankful the plane didn’t crash, because of a pilot who had no desire to live because his wife left him due to his decreased paycheck, and never being home.
        Employers love idiots like you who are just thankful to have a job. They can treat you like shit and know you won;t complain because you are just thankful to have any job.

  35. haoshufu says:

    If a passenger goes wacky, everyone gets up and subdue him/her. When an attendent goes wacky, they go around accusing people on federal charges.

    The pilots are idiots in this case and should be fired all together. Before issuing the slip, should have come out and understand the situation first.

  36. JanDuKretijn says:

    Man, a 3,000-word dissertation griping about a flight attendant having a bad day. You’ve earned your PhD in being a whiny, entitled consumer. She’s a human and flipped out. Carry on.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Her little flip-out could land someone in jail on federal charges. Being ‘a human’ doesn’t justify doing that to someone else for a minor inconvenience.

    • mentor972 says:

      OP here. It was way more than that, trust me. You would have been just as stunned in my shoes. The guy asked me to write out the events for AA, and I did. While I was at it, I posted them to the blog. Am I acting “entitled” by wanting some decent service? .. Let me rephrase that… even mediocre service? Cause I didn’t even get that… and neither did he. I’m only trying to help a guy out. That’s why I wrote it.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      This is Consumerist, where we are able, nay, ENCOURAGED to “whine” about abusive customer service. Carry on, indeed.

    • xnavarroTeran says:

      I respectully think you miss the point. This man could have been prosecuted for this, federal regulations on interfering with flight crews are tough now a days. As a some one that flights often i worry that I could be in this situation one day. I think the noise on this one benefits the flying public and in the end benefits the airline as FA’s like this are a minority and this is a situation that if addressed by AA can be easily corrected.

  37. Elcheecho says:

    if this helen is so famous, you guys that know her should make an anti-helen website. i would visit it often for updates.

  38. Crovie says:

    “If Helen doesn’t like people, she should find a job like flipping burgers. “

    That seems unnecessarily derogatory coming from someone who’s complaining about being mistreated. If only everyone could just get along.

    • mentor972 says:

      Well, the truth hurts. This woman won’t know how good she had it as a flight attendant until she loses her job and has to do something like that. I did my time serving popcorn back in the day. It makes me grateful for what I do now.

  39. dmuth says:

    Am I the only one here who thinks that the passenger in question should speak to an attorney ASAP?

    What we have here is an investigation that involves a flight attendant who abused her power and lied about it. Chances are that “the system” is going to be stacked in her favor. He needs to get legal representation to ensure that he doesn’t get screwed by both the airline and the feds.

    And please, keep us updated on what happens!

  40. quail says:

    In the 1990’s I did loads of traveling. In that time I quickly learned to avoid AA at all costs. They have a corporate culture that doesn’t spawn happy, healthy employees.

  41. Caveat says:

    The passengers should file formal written complaints both with AA AND TSA both against the flight attendant AND the pilot. The pilot is an idiot if he signs off on a warning without investigating if there are grounds for such a warning. The attendant who is continually unstable is far more of a flight risk than a passenger asking for OJ. For all you know she could have been under the influence. You should all have requested that she be screened for drugs and alcohol.

  42. ZeGoggles says:

    Helen, the FA, needs a SWIFT KICK TO THE ASS.

    I fly AA and cannot stand FAs who think they are above the law and need to abuse their power.

  43. LBD "Nytetrayn" says:

    …I think I’ll stick with the Coke.

  44. mannyvel says:

    One day Helen’s going to go postal and become her own in-air incident.

    To bad passengers don’t have their own pre-printed warning cards. “You have exceeded the bounds of professional behavior. This is your first warning. Upon receipt of a second, you will be reported to HR.”

  45. CyberSkull says:

    I dread the day I have to actually fly to get somewhere.

    What scares me at airports: The TSA, drunk pilots, angry stewards & stewardesses & lost baggage.

    You will note that terrorists are not on the list. It has ever been the case that I find the cure scarier than the disease.

  46. nautox says:

    There must be something about asking for OJ on a flight…
    I asked an attendent for some more and she glared at me and said something to the effect
    that when she was finished serving everyone she would get back to me. I thought
    that since she was only a few feet away and had the OJ in her cart, it was appropriate. I was wrong.
    I won’t do that again.

  47. ldavis480 says:

    We need to find out the full name of this Helen and out her. I’m not saying anyone should harass her but the Internet sort of has it’s own way of dealing with the Helen’s of the world.

  48. LACubsFan says:

    When did Stewardess become Flight Attendant?

    From now on it’s no longer the drive thru person at mcdonalds… it’s Communication consultant for a fortune 500 company.

  49. Skeptic says:

    As a frequent passenger I agree that too many airline employees try to use the limited federal powers they have to punish undeserving customers. However, I note that, for all the flying Mr. Koss says he does, he’s using terminology from the 1970s. I took my frst flight in June 1955 but nonetheless I know that the airline employees working aft of the cockpit door are called flight attendants, not stewardesses. I also know that many of them, especially FAs working for legacy airlines, have seen their pay and retirement plans disappear. It’s one thing when this happens to someone in their 20s, but my heart goes out to FAs who have just seen a 30-40 year career go up in smoke.

    It seems to me that “Helen” probably has some mental health issues that are being exacerbated by the stress she’s under. No, she probably should not be working right now, but she may have little choice. Let’s remember that she’s not to blame for her brain chemistry any more than a diabetic is for her blood chemistry. Find the compassion, folks.

    • mentor972 says:

      I don’t get it? I called them ALL flight attendants in the article. Isn’t that what they are? The pilot calls them that on all AA flights.

    • sprocket79 says:

      Ben calls Helen a “stewardess.” The OP doesn’t use that terminology.

      You can’t assume that she’s worried about retirement. Even if she was, does that give her the right to berate a passenger?

      And if she does have mental health issues that cause her to lash out at people and lie to get the feds after them, does that excuse her?

      She’s in a service oriented job. First Class is even more about service because people don’t just pay for the big seats, they pay for the experience.

      If she can’t do the job, then she shouldn’t have it. And if she’s going to lie to the feds then she deserves jail time.

  50. soj4life says:

    just more reason to roll back more bush era policies. exactly how does this dhs rule make me safer when I fly? this rule would not have prevented 9/11.

  51. misslisa says:

    Some random thoughts:
    *Is Helen’s last name Waite? (“You want service? Go to HelenWaite!”)
    *Some posters mentioned AA’s FA union. AA is based in Texas, a right-to-work state. I’m wondering how that factors into the union protecting crazy Helen.
    *Here is what I DO think will protect crazy Helen: AA employees are encouraged to be evil. Why do I say that? Well, I used to not only work for one of their vendors, but I lived in a subdivision bordering their HQ. My neighbors who worked for AA were the most harassing, wild-party-throwing, siccing-their-dogs-on-me, pulling-guns-on-me, setting their own houses on fire jackasses I ever had the displeasure of knowing. Secondly, in my job supporting the AA account, I was routinely harassed by AA project managers who consistently refused signoff on projects. Here’s why: When AA finds “fault” with what a vendor delivers, their contracts deem that they can delay payment. If fault is found forever, then payment never materializes. A “fault” could be as simple as 2 pages in a binder of engineering drawings being out of order, for instance. (Pages that were in order when you sent them but were switched later. Obviously this was many years ago when we still printed paper drawings…)
    *AA is the most evil fucking company and sucks a bag of dicks.
    *Wow do I have PMS today. But at least I”m not acting like Helen!

  52. Telekinesis123 says:

    Thank you for standing up for this guy.

    • mentor972 says:

      I appreciate a positive comment. Seems like a bunch of them (mostly on fark.com) just call me a douche for writing about customer service.

  53. StarVapor says:

    Captive Airline Passengers…

    What the airlines have going for themselves here, and they know it, is that Homeland Security now gives them carte blanch to treat passengers’ and their expressed concerns with total disregard under the new anti-terrorist laws. With this legal coverage in place, there is no incentive for them to do anything different from their current disgraceful practices regarding the treatment of their captive customers.
    Any passenger that even mildly protests their treatment inside of an aircraft, can now be heavily prosecuted for “interfering with” or “intimidating” flight attendants. Under Federal Law, US Code § 46504, a passenger can get from 20 years to life in prison for making an airline employee feel uneasy.
    Even just visually complaining by looking at a flight attendant the “wrong way” (intimidation), under the law, any flight crew member can now subjectively interpret that you are attempting to interfere with a flight crew and you can automatically be considered a terrorist suspect. Even stating you concerns can be interpreted as they please.
    You can be arrested and then who knows where you’ll end up, maybe in Guantanamo with no habeas corpus rights or maybe you’ll just be disappeared. So just remember, when you’re aboard a plane, just sit down, shut up and take it…because you’re not only just another passenger…now you’re also just another suspected terrorist.

    U.S. Code as of: 01/19/04
    Section 46504.
    Interference with flight crew members and attendants:

    An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction
    of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight
    crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with
    the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens
    the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or
    attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title
    18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a
    dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member
    or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of
    years or for life.

  54. savdavid says:

    Do…..not…..fly. If you must, don’t fly American. If you still decide to use American I have no pity for you if Helen comes for you. Drive, take a train, carpool, take a bus, phone and stay home….consider all these things first before flying.
    On the other hand, first class passengers can be arrogant, rude snobs.

  55. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    U.S. airlines should follow the lead of most Asian airlines. Only hire single, young, attractive women. Seriously, many of these flight attendants cop such a bad attitude after 8-10 years that they do their airline a disservice. Get the blue hairs out of the sky.

  56. cmdr.sass says:

    That sky waitress has an inflated sense of her own importance. I was sincerely hoping this story would conclude with someone asking Helen to “make me a sammich”.

  57. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    I’m interested to know how this federal warning panned out. And if the man now has an aversion to OJ.

  58. fxsoap says:

    Not worth complaining about. People are people.

  59. exgratia says:

    I visited AA’s customer relations page and told them how important it was to me for them to make a statement about this claim. After recently reading the hilarious story on AirTran 297 and AirTran’s debunking, I would really like to hear what AA has to say. I got this response 19 hours later:

    December 11, 2009

    Dear Mr. ***:

    We have received your email and are aware of the article that you have referenced. We are actively investigating this matter. We appreciate your desire to bring this to our attention.

    Sincerely,

    Russell Shady
    Customer Relations
    American Airlines

    Not quite taking it seriously, but maybe they are performing an investigation.

  60. Jonathan says:

    I have been a American Advantage Gold elite member for 15 years, all “pleasure”. I do not fly for business.
    I live in Maui, and my parents lived in Westchester county, NY. I often fly to NY trough Dallas.
    I have encountered Helen on many flights. She has a reputation as a major bitch. You would be amazed how many people have told me about her. Apparently she has been with AA for over 25 years. She should have been fired a long time ago.
    What if there was an emergency? The passengers on that flight from Sacremento to Dallas in First knew they were dealing with a lunitic and didn’t trust her. Would they obey her instructions? She very well could have been responcable for their deaths. THis is VERY serious.
    I had an encounter with her on flight 7 from Dallas to Maui, and went up to the gallery to speak to her, asking her is I had offended her somehow. The way to deal with an difficult individual is through kindness, and when she dropped her defenses, I told her “Honey will get you a lot further than vinegar” I wrote a letter to AA about her and got no reply.
    I must say that I fly on AA nearly exclusively because of how nice the employees are. If you think AA employee’s are pissed off, try flying United. I had a simular experience with a Helen type F/A on United, also in First to Hawaii, I wrote to United, and because of their response, and dinosour management policies, I’ve never flied United again. (I was premium elite on UA too) The Airline employee’s are getting screwed, and the passengers get the rage. Just another example of bad management. If your emplouyee’s are treated well, the passengers will be too. You would think, especially in times like these, that the airlines would realize that their freequnt fliers are their best customers and do everything to make us happy, because we pay their salaries and do have a choice. I’m glad that Helen, and others like her, will finally get their due, and be fired. They should not be in cutomer service positions, as they do not have the secret of life; How you treat others, is how you will be treated.

    Jonathan. Maui, Hawaii

  61. aniruddhc says:

    Moral of the story?

    Fly Virgin America.

    Out of the 5 of us, 2 missed their flight from SFO-JFK.

    They put the 2 on the next flight and upgraded them to First Class free of charge because they were mentally traumatized.

    Mind you, we’re Indians.

  62. brianguyy says:

    Wow for about the 8 millionth time on the internet, it’s “aisle” not “isle”. are people ever going to get this right? How did this ever start? It’s almost starting to become like looser/loser and there/their/they’re or you’re/your/yore. Just saying. Consumerist, please add a [sic] for such inaccuracies in the future.

    That said, Helen should be ****canned immediately. I can only wonder what she said to the pilot, which was clearly nothing like the truth. and just what the he** did her snarky comments like “you obviously don’t know how this works” really mean, anyway? Nobody is allowed to ask for orange juice in first class? Heck I’ve asked for, and gotten it, in coach dozens of times on several U.S. carriers. Clearly his request was well within the realm of how “it” works.

  63. lsusanna says:

    i had a very similar incident on an AA flight on my first trip to USA back in Dec 2006 from frankfurt to dfw….when i asked for a glass of water the flight attendant turned around and told everyone in general “Ok, people, so i just woke up from a nap so if everyone could just hold on their order!!…” and then walked to the back….i got my glass of water 1-1/2 hours later at their scheduled snack time… a fellow traveller on that same flight asked for diet coke when they were serving the snacks and was told that they were out of diet….while she poured him a glass of regular coke, an attendant from the business class came over and asked for a diet coke and our lady blatantly took one out of her cart and handed it over to her and then continued to pour the regular coke for the guy next to me as if nothing out of the ordinary happened…when i asked the guy why no one complained he said it was pointless and the only thing that would come off it was that they would black list him as a problematic traveler and it would be a hassle for him every time he boarded a flight…..i totally agree with him as witnessed by OJ travelers predicament ….i am just thankful that the other travelers with him took the time and effort to vouch for him….the crazy attendant deserves….i understand if someone has a bad day…but that doesnt give u the right to be rude…esp when its ur job to be courteous….she should have at least had the decency to apologize….

  64. AmericanAirlines says:

    We take incidents like these very seriously. A full internal investigation is underway and we are actively looking into this matter. We’d like to say more, but cannot go further until we determine the outcome. This will take a few more days to resolve.

  65. navysk says:

    If you all would have been flying a real airline (Southwest) where they dont charge for bags this would have never happened. He probaly would have got 2 glasses. so remember if customer service matters fly Southwest where they never have a bad day.

  66. Krum says:

    Helen has endeared herself to so many people, maybe she needs her own website to shine a light on her behavior. When AA starts the legal wrangling to shut the site down, the ensuing publicity may be a good thing.

  67. AmericanAirlines says:

    American Airlines has been in communication with those customers who were most directly affected by this incident. During that communication, we have apologized to them and taken other appropriate steps. In addition, we apologize to any customer who was inconvenienced by this situation. As to the flight attendant in question, American has taken specific action related to that employee. Because this is a private personnel matter, we cannot disclose the nature of those actions.

  68. queen2010 says:

    It is one thing to be rude. It is another thing to abuse the federal laws as a bullying or persecution tool. The later has to be dealt with harshly. Otherwise we will have FAs terrorizing people whorse than KGB did to their people.

  69. LovinLife says:

    Wow…the funny thing is I’m almost certain I have flown with Helen as well…on First class (using miles)…and she is a case! My ex. boyfriend who flies a lot from SFO – NY say AA First Class Stewardess are THE WORST…Rude…They just don’t care about their jobs, because its nothing to do with how good or bad you do it, but seniority. Maybe Unions need an overhaul? Maybe Airlines like these need a change…the comment about her being suited for flipping burgers…maybe – sounds like she forgot to take her meds and she needs more than just getting fired from her job & flipping burgers (she could go postal on her co-workers…)…she needs HELP (lying to the captain and trying to get the guy in Federal Trouble…this is equivalent of a woman calling “false rape” and other shit. Terrible. Of course none of this will happen, AA will give her a slap on the hand for “behaving badly” and passengers will just have to deal with it. I will say this, some things I really dislike about Southwest…BUT their flight attendants are always awesome.

  70. Ruta says:

    On Monday I flew on a full flight from Houston to Oakland on Southwest Air. I had the sniffles and, during the course of the flight, asked for and received four cans of OJ, each with a glass of ice. The flight attendants were great. I have flown Southwest for years and have never had a bad experience with this airline. SW employees love their jobs and it shows.

    On Wednesday, I noticed this article:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idAFN1524012220091216
    which says, in part,
    “Southwest Air tops best U.S. places to work-survey
    Wed Dec 16, 2009

    By Ellen Wulfhorst
    NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) topped the list of the 50 best U.S. places to work, based upon employee opinions, according to research released on Wednesday. …”

    I believe it. SW staff is always pleasant and sometimes they are even funny.

  71. xnavarroTeran says:

    I recently faced a similar situation, although not as bad as this one. It happened on Dec 9th flight 970 coming back from Managua, Nicaragua to Miami, Florida. I asked for a glass of water and the FA lady in the business class cabin came unglued. She was rude, for absolutely no reason at all, and told me she had offered one before and I was distracted. She was nasty. I just told her thanks and forget the water. I must say though that on the same flight, on Dec 19th, the business class attendants, two gentlemen (one was from Chile I believe) were very nice and courteous and provided us with fabulous service during the flight. In fact, most often than not the FA’s are courteous and amiable. However, American needs to learn from the Orange Juice incident. They need to learn that they do have these few bad apples and cannot simply give the FA the benefit of the doubt. Had the OJ passenger had not witnesses he could have been unfairly prosecuted and maybe even jailed. They need to review their procedures so that a certain code of ethics and passengers bill of rights are enforced on all flights, perhaps naming a senior FA in-flight customer service supervisor. One who will hear the passenger’s side of the story and/or can question other passengers as witnesses. It is too easy for an ill-intentioned FA to go to a busy pilot and give his/her own spin to the story. These procedures would also work on the airlines’ favor when there are in fact unruly passengers interfering with flight attendants.

    American also needs to review their training procedures when it comes to customer service on the ground and on the back-office. Going back to my incident. On the same flight, My 4 bags (ironically stamped with Priority Service) were left behind (I was traveling with my wife). I waited on the belt until no more luggage was coming out. I asked an AA representative for help, she carelessly with a ‘your tough luck’ attitude send me to luggage claim. I filled my claim for lost luggage, they later called me and told me the bags would be delivered by 11am the next day. I called at 12+ to tell them they had not arrived. They tried to tell me it was my fault because I was late to the carousel. It was then that I finally got a little irritated and told the lady I had been the first passenger there and reminded until the last piece of luggage came out. Far from apologizing she tried to argue with me that the computer said that and therefore they were right. I finally got my luggage later that day. I called Customer Service and reported everything I just wrote here. I told them that the worse part of it was that I never got an apology, an “I am sorry for your inconvenience”, nothing. Even the Customer service lady was very ‘business as usual’, she did say I am sorry but obviously thought 5,000 miles would take care of the deal. I told her I did not care for the miles, what I wanted is a written apology which I am still waiting for.

    I like American Airlines, I am a platinum member and have close to 1.1 million flown miles with them. I like to travel comfortably when I can as I travel often, and my calling Customer Service was a ‘bona fide’ effort to help them fix this deterioration in an aspect of service that is so easy to fix in my opinion: “Treat the passenger with respect and courtesy.” But it became evident to me that it wouldn’t help. There is something deeper going on at American which they need to address or it will cost them dearly in the near future. If some here knows of a more effective mechanism to get this message across to AA Senior Management, I would appreciate the input…